SELF CARE: WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU?
By Ann Finucane
Ann is a registered psychotherapist and counsellor with experience in managing anxiety, self-care, IBD, and domestic abuse having extensively worked in areas to do with the mind and true self so her clients can find meaning and purpose through their suffering towards empowerment.
When I mention self-care in the therapy room it is often met like a jolt in memory because so many feel a lack of connection in the awareness of making time for self-care. I have come to believe that despite the current awareness around the importance of self-care, people still perceive it as something outside of the self. This self-discovery journey becomes my quest for the client.
Developing the skill of scanning our minds and bodies for our needs in the present moment is life changing. It empowers us to manage our wellbeing from the inside out. Learning to understand what works for oneself helps to build a unique self-care plan which becomes the natural constant in our lives.
I mentioned the jolt in memory when I ask clients about their self-care. Very often the general feedback is around a list of external suggestions. For instance, going to the gym, going for a run, knitting or reading which are all good for self-care, but limits the degree of integration of the self in the activity.
When we reflect on the concept of waking first thing, we can practice self-care by not picking up our phones, just focusing on yourself and the day ahead. Stretching, breathing, bringing immediate focus to the self before moving. Conscious thoughts of gratitude make a positive mindset for the day. Showering or bathing using your favourite smells that ignite the senses in touch, smell and sound releasing oxytocin associated with self-soothing is a core of self-care.
You may say that many of us do this anyway but are you aware that this is a conscious self-care act? Meditating or allowing time for a breakfast is nurturing the self, making that choice is bringing your needs in to your consciousness. Logging that this is a good morning routine in your self-care plan, bodes well on the mornings where you are tired or anxious about your day.
Sensorial responses are a huge guide in developing our own unique self-care plan. Scanning into our needs and using our senses to self soothe empowers us to contain our stress. There is much research in neuroscience in our ability to calm the amygdala. Recognising which sense works best for you to enable you to self sooth anytime is incredibly powerful.
You may prefer auditory sensation which might require a specific list of podcasts, meditation music, listening to breathing exercises or vibrational sounds used in sound therapy. Having this instant go to is the victory in managing your mental and physical health. This ability and self-insight become one of our authentic cores. It builds our resilience and empowers us to create our own wellbeing.
Ask the question, what is good for me, and therefore what do I need?